Bias in the Counseling Process: How to Recognize and Avoid It

Morrow, K.A.; Deidan, C.T.
May 1992
Journal of Counseling & Development;May/Jun92, Vol. 70 Issue 5, p571
Academic Journal
Counselors' vulnerability to inferential bias during the counseling process may result in misdiagnosis and improper interventions. Counselors are continually called upon to form impressions or hypotheses concerning the nature, origin, and treatment of their clients' disturbances. The purpose of this article is to assist counselors in recognizing and avoiding bias in their interactions with clients. The inferential biases that are discussed include those related to (a) the availability and representativeness heuristics; (b) fundamental attribution error; (c) anchoring, prior knowledge, and labeling; (d) confirmatory hypothesis testing; and (e) reconstructive memory. The availability heuristic is used when people attempt to determine how likely it is that a particular event or situation will occur. This heuristic involves basing judgments on information saliency. The availability heuristic may bias people toward judging experiences as being more common than they actually are. This in turn may bias their judgments and result in an overestimation of the prevalence of the event.


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